Jazz on the Hill with Cameron Ward
Before his death in January 2018, legendary South African music icon Hugh Masekela lauded guitarist Cameron Ward as “one of his favourite musicians.” A member of Masekela’s band since he was 21, Ward is now poised to establish himself as an international solo artist – with ambitions to one day take his place among the giants of South African music – like his mentor.
Ward grew up in the Lotus River area along the Cape Flats. Raised by a single mother, Ward said his mother shielded him from the street gangs with church. A drummer for Pentecostal Protestant Church Ottery, at age six, his mother later sent him to music school to study the piano.
After learning the piano, he formed a church band with his relatives called Cousins for Christ. Ward said he was stuck with a guitar because that was the only instrument left. “Little did I know that my love for guitar would grow,” Ward said.
At first self-taught, Ward met fellow South African guitarist Jimmy Dludlu, who was impressed enough to send him to study music full time for two years. Dludlu also bought Ward his first guitar. After years working as a backing guitarist for a number of South African bands and artists, Masekela, who was looking for a fresh sound, held auditions. Ward was hired.
“Joining Bra Hugh and his band changed my life,” Ward said, “in a beautiful and amazing way. Travelling the world and performing at some of the most famous venues on this planet was a priceless experience. More important were the off-stage lessons,” he continued. “The father-son quiet moments. The teaching moments. The life’s lesson moments. His passing will take me a lifetime to get over. I promised Bra Hugh that I would carry on his legacy.”
Already hailed as a crowd favourite with US and European audiences for his showmanship and musical prowess, Ward honed and mastered his improvisational ideas, solo and vocal acumen, and rhythm guitar skills for nearly a decade playing sold-out jazz clubs and festivals worldwide alongside Masekela and his band. Music critics have called Ward “hands-down one of the most versatile musicians of his generation.”
Guitar – Cameron Ward
Bass Guitar – Eddie Steyn
Keyboards – Randal Skippers
Drums – Merlin Michaels
Flugel and Trumpet – Neill Engel